My little sister and I skipped down a busy Minneapolis street giggling. Moments earlier I had opened up a Cheez-It box and showered glitter all over Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. As the glitter fell I shouted, "Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the the hate! Stop anti-gay politics. It's dividing our country, and it's not fixing our economy!"
Security shoved us out the door, and we rushed home to upload the video from my sister's camera.
Since then, two other presidential candidates have been glittered, along with Michele Bachmann's "pray away the gay" clinic, and an anti-gay marriage booth that popped up at the Minnesota State Fair. The actions have made national and international news, appearing in The New York Times and Yahoo! News and on the BBC, MSNBC and FOX, informing millions of people around the world of the extreme views of these politicians.
It's surprising to see how many people have made the assumption that as a person who is fighting for LGBT equality, I must be gay. I want to be clear that I am simply of a generation that will not tolerate bigotry and hatred toward any group of people. This is a basic human rights issue that I cannot ignore. It hurts me to see politicians who want to legislate against love and prevent my friends from having equal rights to marry whom they choose, or to have the right to visit their partner on their deathbed.
I am not willing to sit back and watch the right wing systematically dehumanize and strip group after group of their rights.
When I was 15 my father was deported. Without warning, agents arrived at our house and took him into custody. It was a devastating blow to our family and something that took me years to fully understand. The feeling of powerlessness as an unjust system tore apart my family has stuck with me and motivates me to stand up for the rights of all families to stick together.
I know that my experience is not isolated, and that millions of families have been ripped apart by our broken immigration system, just as many non-traditional families are separated by archaic views on marriage equality. Recognizing the way these issues connect is the first step toward working together to make things better for all of us.
In fact, there are many bi-national same-sex couples in which one partner is unable to get citizenship through marriage like other couples, forcing him or her to continue living in constant fear of deportation.
Our struggles are interconnected, and we can't win alone. We are finding the common threads of dignity that tie us together in a movement for justice and equality. We are standing up against those who have dehumanized, divided and conquered. We are finding creative and fun ways to expose hatred and bigotry. Will you join us?
What I have tried to do with creative forms of protest like glittering is to capture people's imagination and tap into a cultural point of reference with a piece of political theater projected into the real world. By creating a moment of conflict I shine a light onto the hypocrisy and bigotry of our current political discourse in a way that is as entertaining as it is dramatic.
As I have learned, creating a spectacle effectively engages the 24-hour news cycle and gives an opportunity to embed a succinct message in that moment. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow a short YouTube clip to go viral and reach audiences we would have never imagined.
The strength of glitter is that humor is an incredibly powerful tool for communicating a message -- even a deadly serious one. We use humor to give hope to ourselves and each other, while contrasting our approach with the hateful and cruel attacks on our communities.
It's almost laughable that people like Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee claim that glitter is assault. I would laugh if they weren't assaulting people's humanity on a daily basis, and if their constant inflammatory rhetoric didn't produce real violence -- from an epidemic of gay teen suicides to attacks on abortion clinics and providers.
The fact that they hyperventilate over something as harmless as glitter tells me three things: first, that we are being effective enough to worry them; second, that they are desperate to discredit us by labeling something as harmless as glitter violent; and third, that their views are heading toward extinction as a new generation shows its power.
To be certain, as long as politicians continue their attacks on our communities, they can expect the sparkly showers to continue -- and with the hit series Glee recently featuring a glitter bomb on their season premiere, you can be certain I'm not the only one plotting fabulous future actions.
This type of political theater serves a very specific purpose of bringing media attention and scrutiny to the bigoted views of anti-gay politicians. It will take all kinds of tactics and dedicated organizing to win full equality, and I look forward to being part of a lifelong movement for justice and equality for all people.
Follow Nick Espinosa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cgohome